AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) — The snowstorm that hit Colorado on Thursday provided the perfect backdrop for the NHL and the Air Force Academy to promote the Stadium Series event to be held at Falcon Stadium on Feb. 15.
The matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche is the second outdoor NHL game to be played in Colorado. The Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings played at Coors Field on Feb. 27, 2016, in balmy temperatures when it was 65 degrees at the start of Detroit's 5-3 win.
This week, temperatures in Denver and Colorado Springs were in the 20s with a strong snowstorm hitting the area, giving the NHL's news conference a wintry feel.
"If today's weather is like this in February, I have no doubt that the game we play here at Falcon Stadium between the Avalanche and Kings is going to be nothing short of awesome," commissioner Gary Bettman said.
Bettman was joined by Avalanche executive vice president and general manager Joe Sakic and Kings president Luc Robitaille at Falcon Stadium. The news conference was originally scheduled to be held on the field but was moved inside due to the weather.
The February game will mark the second time the NHL has played a regular-season outdoor game at a U.S. service academy. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on March 3, 2018.
The Air Force Academy is approximately 60 miles south of the Denver metro area and sits at 6,621 feet, 1,000 feet higher than Coors Field.
Sakic, who helped lead the Avalanche to two Stanley Cup titles in his Hall of Fame career, said the players are looking forward to playing at Falcon Stadium
"The first one at Coors Field was a smashing success and we know here at the iconic Falcon Stadium it's going to be an unbelievable experience for everybody," he said. "I wasn't able to play in one of these as a player, only an alumni game a few years ago, but I can speak on behalf of the players, this is a game that's been circled for a long time. We know there's a lot of games before it but it's the one game that every single player looks forward to."
This will be the third time the Kings have played an outdoor game. They hosted Anaheim in the first Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25, 2014. By then outdoor games had become a standard with the NHL's Heritage Classic and Winter Classic series.
There have been 27 outdoor games, starting when Montreal and Edmonton played in the first Heritage Classic on Nov. 22, 2003. Three more outdoor games are scheduled for this season. Winnipeg will host Calgary in a Heritage Classic game on Oct. 26 and Nashville and Dallas will play in the Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Jan. 1.
"Those marquee events, when your organization is a part of it, you feel like it's something very special," Robitaille said.
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